• Transport performance in IWT in the EU-27 (without the United Kingdom) amounted to 131.7 billion TKM in 2020, a reduction of 8.2% compared to 2019. By adding together transport performance of the three non-EU countries – Switzerland, Serbia and Ukraine – a transport performance of 135.1 billion tonnes has resulted for 2020 (-8.4% compared to 2019).
• Transport performance on the traditional Rhine decreased by 10% in 2020, compared to 15% in the low water year 2018, and 15% in the financial crisis year 2009. The only segment that registered higher figures in 2020 were agricultural products. Container transport almost remained constant.
• Despite reductions in iron ore, metals and coal transport, transport performance on the Danube decreased by only 1.4% in 2020, thanks to a vital upsurge in the transport of agricultural products.


 

TRANSPORT IN EUROPE AND BY COUNTRY

    SHARE OF THE COUNTRIES’ TONNES-KM (TKM) IN TOTAL TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE (IN %)


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo], OECD (Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine)
    The share of IWT performance in Europe in 2020 for the United Kingdom is not available due to a delay in the publication of the data.

     

    FIGURE 1: IWT TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN 2016, 2017, 2018 AND 2019 IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TKM)


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo], OECD (Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine)
    The 2020 value for the United Kingdom is not available due to a delay in the publication of the data.

     

  • Ukraine is incorporated into the annual report for the first time. The main navigable rivers of Ukraine are the Dnieper, the Southern Bug and the Danube. From the perspective of the main territory of Ukraine, the Danube forms a border with Romania along a rather short stretch in the most south-western part of the country. The Dnieper and the Southern Bug flow through the heartland of Ukraine. All three rivers flow in the north-south direction and empty their waters into the Black Sea.
  • Taking into consideration total transport performance, Rhine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland) accounted for 78.6% of total inland waterway transport performance in the EU-27, plus Switzerland, Serbia and Ukraine. The share for Danube countries was 19.1% (without Ukraine) and 21.2% (including Ukraine).
  •  

    FIGURE 2: YEARLY INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES (IN BILLION TKM IN 2020) *


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo] and OECD
    * Data for UK not available for 2020

     

  • From the total inland waterway transport performance in Europe in 2020, which amounts to around 132 billion TKM, 74.4% represented transport that crossed a border in one way or another – whether it be in the form of export, import or transit traffic. Transit traffic taken separately had a share of 19.8% in 2020, and export and import traffic each had a share of 27.3%.
  • Inland waterway transport is particularly relevant for certain corridors. Current market characteristics show that for cross-border traffic within the Rhine-Alpine corridor, inland waterways have a modal share of 54%. For the North Sea-Mediterranean corridor, IWW cross-border traffic amounts to 35%, 38% for the North Sea-Baltic corridor and 14% for the Rhine-Danube corridor.
  •  

    FIGURE 3: YEARLY INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN THE EU-27 (IN BILLION TKM) *


    Source: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo]
    * EU-27 according to member countries in 2020

     
     
     

TRANSPORT BY MAIN EUROPEAN RIVER BASINS


    Sources: CCNR analysis based on Destatis, VNF, Eurostat
     
     
    RHINE BASIN
     
    Transport volume and transport performance on the traditional Rhine

    • Cargo transport on the traditional Rhine (from Basel to the German-Dutch border) amounted to 160 million tonnes in 2020, which represented a decrease of 8.4% compared to 2019. Transport performance on the traditional Rhine reached 32.6 billion TKM, which was 10% less than in 2019. Total transport volume and transport performance on the traditional Rhine are calculated by the German Statistical Office Destatis, based on information provided by ports and skippers (see glossary).
    •  

      FIGURE 4: TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE (IN MILLION TKM)


      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
       
       

    Rhine transport at specific measurement points

    • Along with the overall cargo transport on the traditional Rhine (160 million tonnes), cargo transport can also be measured at specific measurement points (locks or border points). The relevant volumes represent the transport activity only at these particular points in a geographical, snapshot type of approach.4
    • The following table contains a set of measurement points in the Rhine basin which is used by the waterway and shipping administration in Germany.
    •  
       

      TABLE 1: MEASUREMENT POINTS FOR FREIGHT TRANSPORT IN THE RHINE BASIN AND RATE OF CHANGE 2020/2019

      Rhine stretch / affluentMeasurement point Name of measurement pointVolume of transport in 2020 in Mio. tonnesRate of change 2020/2019
      Lower RhineBorder Germany/NetherlandsEmmerich130.0-7.9%
      Upper RhineBorder Germany/FranceLock of Iffezheim19.2-9.9%
      MainJunction of Main and RhineLock of Mainz-Kostheim13.5+2.3%
      MoselleJunction of Moselle and RhineLock of Koblenz8.1-14.5%
      NeckarJunction of Neckar and RhineLock of Mannheim-Feudenheim5.1-5.6%

      Source: CCNR analysis based on data of the German Waterway Administration
       
       

    • Regarding the Moselle, a sharp decrease in coal transport in 2020 (by 39.6%) contributed significantly to the overall reduction of cargo transport, which amounted to 14.5% (lock of Koblenz). A positive development within Moselle transport is the increase of container traffic by 12.7%, from 22,290 TEU in 2019 up to 25,521 in 2020.5 Compared to the year 2015, when TEU on the Moselle amounted to 16,896, container transport on the Moselle grew by 51% over only five years. In terms of overall cargo transport, however, this increase in container transport does not compensate for the decline in the traditional cargo segments (coal, iron ore) on the Moselle.
    •  

      FIGURE 5: YEARLY FREIGHT TRANSPORT AT DIFFERENT MEASUREMENT POINTS ALONG THE RHINE AND ITS AFFLUENTS (IN MILLION TONNES)


      Sources: German Waterway and Shipping Administration and Moselle Commission
       
       

    • The number of loaded vessels at the lower Rhine stretch, which has the highest traffic intensity of the Rhine, amounted to 100,000 vessels in 2020, representing a decrease of 3.5% compared to 2019. The average amount of cargo carried by a vessel when passing the German-Dutch border amounted to 1,300 tonnes per loaded vessel in the year 2020, compared to 1,362 tonnes in 2019.

     
    Rhine transport by cargo segment

    • An important trend per cargo segment in Rhine navigation concerns the phasing out of coal in the energy sector and the related decrease in coal transport. This decrease continued in 2020. Coal transport on the Rhine is made up of imported cargo volumes from abroad, and around half of these imports are used in the energy sector, while the other half are used for producing steel. Taking this steel related coal into account separately, all goods segments related to steel production account for approximately 25% of Rhine transport.
    • After the macroeconomic and world trade decline that started in 2017 and the low water year in 2018, steel related transport faced another year with negative influencing factors. The Covid crisis in 2020 provoked a sharp decrease in automobile and steel production and therefore a drop in related transport demand. Combined with energy transition, this explains why the sharpest decreases within Rhine transport in 2020 were seen for coal (-23.8%), iron ore (-14.2%) and metals (-14.6%).
    • The only segment with a positive result was the agribulk and food segment (+10.7%), which is closely correlated with harvest results. The explanation for this growth is indeed found in the higher grain volumes harvested in Europe. Cargo transported in containers (net-weight) amounted to 15 million tonnes, which was almost on the same level as in 2019 (15.2 million tonnes). In terms of TEU, the result was 1.967 million TEU in 2020, compared to 2.041 million TEU in 2019 (-3.6%).
    •  

      FIGURES 6 AND 7: GOODS TRANSPORTED ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE BY TYPE OF GOODS (IN MILLION TONNES)*



      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
      * For containers: net-weight

       
       

      TABLE 2: GOODS TRANSPORT ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE IN TOTAL AND BY LARGEST GOODS SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES) AND RATE OF CHANGE 2020/2019

      Goods segment201920202020/2019 in %
      Traditional Rhine in total174.1160.0-8.4
      Mineral oil products30.027.6-8.0
      Sands, stones, gravel28.626.2-8.4
      Chemicals20.119.3-3.7
      Iron ore21.618.5-14.2
      Agribulk, food products15.717.4+10.7
      Coal22.417.1-23.8
      Goods in containers15.215.0-1.4
      Metals9.38.0-14.6

      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
       
       

    DANUBE BASIN
     
    Transport volume and transport performance on the Danube

    • Cargo transport on the entire navigable Danube between Kelheim (Germany) and the Black Sea in Romania lies in the range between 36 and 40 million tonnes per year.6 The transport performance on the Danube (EU Danube countries plus Serbia) reached 25.8 billion TKM in 2020, which was 1.4% less compared to 2019.
    •  

      FIGURE 8: TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN FREIGHT TRANSPORT ON THE DANUBE (IN MILLION TKM)*


      Sources: Eurostat [IWW_GO_ATYGO] and OECD (Serbia)
      * Transport performance in IWT in all EU Danube countries plus Serbia

     
     
    Danube transport at specific measurement points

    • The statistical system used for observing Danube cargo transport at certain measurement points is similar to the system in the Rhine basin. The waterway administrations register data at certain borders or measurement points which are described for the Danube in the table below.
    •  

      TABLE 3: MEASUREMENT POINTS FOR DANUBE FREIGHT TRANSPORT AND RATE OF CHANGE 2020/2019

      Danube stretchMeasurement point Name of measurement pointVolume of transport in 2020 in Mio. tTransport volume 2020/2019
      Upper DanubeBorder Germany/AustriaLock of Jochenstein2.3-30.0%
      Upper DanubeBorder Slovakia/HungaryLock of Gabčíkovo5.0-14.2%
      Middle DanubeBorder Hungary/Croatia/SerbiaMohács6.1+9.5%

      Source: Danube Commission market observation
       
       

    • On the Danube, and in particular on the Lower and Middle Danube, transport by pushed convoys has a much higher share than it does on the Rhine. For the Middle Danube, the share of pushed convoys within total cargo transport was 75.7% in 2020, compared to 79.5% in 2019 and 78.7% in 2018.
    • Next to the measurement points along the Danube, yearly figures are also shown for the Danube-Black Sea Canal, running from Cernavodă on the Danube River to Constanţa (southern arm) and to Năvodari (northern arm) on the Black Sea. In 2020, this canal had a transport volume of 16.5 million tonnes (a decrease of only 1.4% compared to 2019).
    •  

      FIGURE 9: YEARLY FREIGHT TRANSPORT AT DIFFERENT MEASUREMENT POINTS ALONG THE DANUBE AND ON THE DANUBE-BLACK SEA CANAL (IN MILLION TONNES)


      Source: Danube Commission, several annual market observation reports
       
       

    • The Sulina Canal is another artificial waterway in Romania that connects the Danube with the Black Sea. The main part of freight transport activity on the Sulina Canal is performed by seagoing vessels. In 2020, transport on this canal reached a volume of 4.55 million tonnes.
    •  

      TABLE 4: GOODS TRANSPORT ON THE SULINA CANAL IN MILLION TONNES BY DIRECTION

      Direction/ Year 2014201520162017201820192020
      Danube → Black Sea3.243.263.253.613.674.332.87
      Black Sea → Danube0.420.580.510.700.771.161.67
      Total transport3.673.853.764.314.445.494.55

      Source: Danube Commission market observation
       
       

    • The total inland waterway transport handled by Romanian ports amounted to 27.3 million tonnes in 2020 (-4.1% compared to 2019). This includes the inland shipping volumes handled in the port of Constanţa amounting to 14.5 million tonnes.

     
     
    Danube transport by cargo segment

    • Cargo volumes of iron ore, metals, metal products, steel and coking coal account for 45-55% of all goods transport on the Danube.7 Overall, iron ore and metals followed an increasing trend on the Danube between 2014 and 2019, despite low waters and macroeconomic hurdles. The reasons are the general positive macroeconomic growth environment in many Danube countries and in particular growth in steel production in most of these countries between 2014 and 2019.8
    • In 2020, however, the decrease in demand for raw materials for the metal processing industry and for metal products led to a partial suspension of activity in this market segment. Further important developments were the reduction of import quotas of metals to the EU and the redistribution of supply flows as a result of the introduction of new customs duties in international trade. Altogether, there was no stabilisation of the indicators in the steel market segment of Danube navigation until the end of 2020.
    • The agricultural segment stabilised Danube transport: large volumes of grain and other agricultural products were transported from the ports on the middle Danube to the ports of the Danube Delta (Constanţa). The transport market on the Danube for petroleum products and products of the chemical industry could be considered as relatively stable during the year.
    •  

      FIGURE 10: GOODS TRANSPORT ON THE MIDDLE DANUBE (IN MILLION TONNES) *


      Source: Danube Commission market observation
      * At Mohács (southern Hungary – border area with Croatia and Serbia)

       
       

    • On the Upper and Middle Danube, iron ore is entirely transported upstream, while grain, food products and foodstuffs are entirely transported downstream. The first point reflects the provision of the steel industry in Austria, Hungary and Serbia with raw materials, while the second point reflects the export of agricultural products from Croatia, Hungary and Serbia downstream to the Lower Danube region and to seaports.
    •  
       

    CONTAINER TRANSPORT PER COUNTRY IN EUROPE
     
    Geographical structure

    • It is the case that 99.99% of all container transport performance (TKM) on European inland waterways occurs in the six Rhine countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg). On the Danube, container transport is still almost non-existent.
    •  

    Whole EU

    • IWW container transport in the whole EU-27 amounted to 6.8 million TEU and 56.5 million tonnes in 2020, which was an increase of 2% (based on TEU) but a decrease of 3% (based on tonnes) compared to 2019.
    • The 56.5 million tonnes represented a share of 11.3% of total inland waterway transport in the EU. The share of container transport is following an upward trend as can be seen by the following figures for this share: 9.0% (2015), 9.9% (2018), 10.4% (2019), 11.3% (2020).
    •  

    Rhine countries

    • With regard to certain countries, container transport in TEU progressed by +1% in the Netherlands, by +6% in France, but was 1% lower in Belgium and 4% lower in Germany.
    • There were 48.6 million tonnes of cargo in containers in the Netherlands (equalling 13.9% of total IWW transport in the country), 19.9 million tonnes in Belgium (12.7% of total Belgian IWT), 19.6 million tonnes in Germany (10.4% of total German IWT) and 3.0 million tonnes in France (5.4% of total French IWT).
    • Luxembourg is a country where container transport has developed significantly since 2014, due to emerging Moselle container traffic. An amount of 17,436 TEU and 0.180 million tonnes of goods in containers were transported in 2020 in Luxembourg. This was again a strong increase compared to 2019 (+51% for TEU and +43% for tonnes). These data are particularly relevant, considering that until 2014, container transport in Luxembourg was practically non-existent.
    •  

      FIGURE 11: IWW CONTAINER TRANSPORT PER COUNTRY IN EUROPE (IN MILLION TEU) *


      Source: Eurostat [iww_go_actygo]
      * The figures for the countries cannot be added together because this would incur double counting. The total value for EU-27 takes into account cross-border container traffic.

       

      FIGURE 12: CONTAINER (TEU) FLOWS FROM LOADING REGIONS IN THE NETHERLANDS TO REGIONS OF UNLOADING (NUTS 2)


      Source: CCNR analysis based on CBS data
       
       

INLAND NAVIGATION AND OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORT

    FIGURE 13: MODAL SPLIT SHARE OF INLAND TRANSPORT MODES IN THE EU-27 (IN %) 2009-2019


    Source: Eurostat [tran_hv_frmod]
     

  • In the last decades, modal split shares have remained rather stable. The modal split of IWT at the level of the EU-27 was 6.1% in 2019 and thus behind road transport (76.3%) and rail transport (17.6%). The IWT modal share therefore remained at similar levels, while the modal share of rail transport decreased for the benefit of road transport. As many EU countries do not have inland waterways, the overall modal split of IWT on the EU level should not be used as a performance indicator for the success of inland waterway transport in the EU. In order to measure the success of IWT in the transport market, it is better to look at the modal split evolution of IWT in countries where there is a sufficiently dense inland waterway network, such as in the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, or where inland navigation has traditionally been important for goods transport, as in many Danube countries.
  •  
     

    FIGURES 14 AND 15: IWW MODAL SPLIT EVOLUTION IN RHINE AND DANUBE COUNTRIES (%, BASED ON TONNE-KILOMETRES)*



    Source: Eurostat [tran_hv_frmod]
    * Share of inland waterway transport performance in total (IWT + Road + Rail) transport performance. 2018 data for Belgium are estimated.

     
     

  • The IWW modal split in EU countries shows varying trends. In the Netherlands, IWW modal split increased between 2009 and 2012, to reach 47.2%. It decreased in the following years, reaching 42.7% in 2019. The reduction in coal transport, which began in 2015, and the low water periods in 2015, 2017 and 2018, can explain parts of this downward trend. Such a downward trend is also visible in Belgium and Germany. In Luxembourg, the modal split of IWT has increased in recent years. Within Danube countries, Romania and Bulgaria record high IWT modal shares, in 2019 reaching respectively 28.1% and 31.8%. For the latter, it is the first time since 2012 that the IWT modal split in Bulgaria is higher than 30%, an important increase of 7.3 percentage points compared to 2018.